It’s issues like West Broadway that make us all look a bit like big, dumb farm animals. After all, here’s a road on which five pedestrians have died since 1998, and we’ve been struggling unsuccessfully ever since to come up with a safer version for everyone involved. Councils and mayors and locals have gone round and round on this one, and today, in spite of all our efforts, we’re not much further along than when we started.
So perhaps it was bound to happen: T-shirts sporting slogans adapted from George Orwell’s Animal Farm showed up on two City Council members (Ward 2’s John Hendrickson and Ward 4’s Jon Wilkins) at the April 20 meeting, where the city presented three potential new corridor designs—three-lane, four-lane and five-lane—to the public.
“Broadway: 2 Lanes Bad, 4 Lanes Better” read the maroon shirts that interested citizen Matt Lee has been handing around to Broadway business owners and others unhappy with the three-lane configuration that was partly implemented months ago.
Lee says he’s a big fan of the book and thinks everyone ought to read it. He adapted the slogan from Orwell, he says, because it’s snappy and he wants to make people think.
The motto is thought-provoking, all right, but an excerpt from Chapter Two provokes the question of what, exactly, to think of a slogan incessantly repeated by brainwashed sheep: “FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn…the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!” and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.”
When this small matter is pointed out, Lee gives a friendly laugh and says he certainly wasn’t insinuating that wearers of his shirt are mindless sheep. It’s hard coming up with a motto both short and sweet, he says, and at least it gets people thinking about the book.
What people think about West Broadway, though, seems muddier than ever. After years of fruitlessly begging the state for a stoplight (the Montana Department of Transportation has jurisdiction), a new MDT study concluded this month that, indeed, a stoplight is now an option. Now the city is weighing three arrangements, any of which could include a stoplight. Meanwhile, Hendrickson seems to be leading the charge on a citizens’ initiative to halt construction on Broadway and start working on a four-lane design, though City Attorney Jim Nugent has thus far rejected that plan due to legal issues.
In light of all this, we can’t resist offering up our pitch for a T-shirt slogan: Missoula: Where Broadway meets the Barnyard.